Wow, so hot and humid. So much so that it takes an encounter with wildlife for me to really enjoy it, but Friday was a great day for that. A few clouds in the morning convinced me (erroneously, it turned out) that it might be cooler that day, so I got ready as fast as I could and went out to go birdwatching. It turned out the refuge I originally wanted to visit was not accessible this time of year, as there was no-one there to let you in. However, the receptionist directed me to a bike trail through a different refuge that turned out to be perfect. The trail took about 3 hours to walk (while stopping frequently to look at birds), and led through very nice jungle and mangrove lagoons. An occasional biker or jogger used the path, but not that frequently. It was still very hot and humid, especially as I didn’t get started until about 9 am, but there was constant shade on the trail (yay!).
My favorite bird was this one – the Citreoline Trogon. I don’t know why, I have a fondness for trogons – they’re just so cool :) Seeing one anywhere always makes me happy. There were lots of birds that I couldn’t identify, and yet more that I only heard but never saw. Tropical birding can be quite frustrating – the birds blend so well with the foliage that it is very difficult to ever find them. Yet, despite being hot, sweaty, and having quite a low percentage of actual identification, I was pretty much happy as a clam :D I also did see a Spider Monkey in the bush, which is not that common.
My 5-km or so walk ended at Playa Linda, an estuary where crocodiles swim in the lagoon and a number of local shops, restaurants, and other tourist attractions were set up along the beach. Busfulls of kids from local schools were there on field trips, all excited to see the cocodrillos :) I stopped to talk to an inspector responsible for checking vendor and restaurant licenses, and he told me about his 11 years doing roofing in Phoenix in the 100+ degree heat. Now back in Mexico, his current job is much more enjoyable, well, like a walk on the beach!
Back at the resort I found a notice tacked to the door – their way of letting you know about the latest activity they have planned to entertain the tourists, or the bar specials, or whatnot. Usually I don’t pay much attention to these, but this one was special – it turned out the resort was one of several along the beach to have an active turtle nesting and release program. They collected Green Sea Turtle eggs when they were laid on the beach in November and held them until they hatched, then we all got to participate in releasing them to the ocean. Through this program, the hatch rate has increased from 40% to 90+%, and they are proud of this contribution – plus it was totally fun for us, adults and kids alike.
So, we all stood in a line on the beach with our own little teeny turtle cupped in the palms of our hands, then carefully set them all down on the sand at once and waited for the waves to come along. We didn’t dare move until they were all out, for fear of one getting washed behind us and stepped on. Mine kind of sat there for a long time until a wave reached him, then he kind of perked up and started heading slowly for the water. You couldn’t help wanting to cheer when your turtle made it out to sea – as soon as the waves hit they scooted and swam really fast, like little propellors. It was neat to see their little black heads get further and further out, though I worried as they passed the rocky island full of seabirds :)
Maybe a little touristy but something I really enjoyed anyway. It’s great that all these resorts are getting into the action and helping to undo some of the impacts that development of the beach brings. This was far and away the most popular activity that everyone turned out for and enjoyed learning about and participating in, a good sign.